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Statement of Nawaz Sharif to be recorded in the Avenfield corruption reference

19 May, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: As the statement of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to be recorded before the Islamabad Accountability Court in the Avenfield corruption reference on Monday, the Sharif family has approached the Supreme Court to seek certified copies of miscellaneous applications submitted to the apex court when it was hearing the Panama Papers case.

“We have moved an application before the Supreme Court to seek the certified copies,” said an informed source privy to the development.

Later, senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed who is defending Mr Sharif and his family members also informed accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir about the filing of the application before the Supreme Court office.

On May 9 when the Supreme Court had taken up the request of the Islamabad Accountability Court seeking extension of time to complete the corruption references against the Sharif family, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had asked Khawaja Haris about the defence’s intention to produce witnesses before the court. At this, the counsel had replied that he was not in a position to inform the court about defendants’ plans of producing their witnesses or not.

The documents sought from the apex court pertain to the money trail Hussain Nawaz and Maryam Nawaz, the children of Mr Sharif, had moved before the Supreme Court about the sale deed of the Gulf Steel Mills, agreements with the Al-Ahli Steel Mills, etc.

On Nov 15, 2016, the children of Mr Sharif — Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz — had taken the plea that no amount was ever transferred or remitted from Pakistan for setting up, financing or running of steel mills in the UAE.

In their 86-page statement submitted to the Supreme Court, they had explained that the four Park Lane flats in London were purchased by the Al-Thani family but ownership was secured through two companies — Neilson Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, though the bearer share certificates of the properties were kept by the Al-Thani family in Qatar.

On account of the longstanding business and personal relations of the Al-Thani family with Mian Muhammad Sharif, the late father of Mr Sharif, the Al-Thani family allowed Mian Sharif and his family to use the properties whilst bearing all expenses relating to the properties, including the ground rent and service charges, said the statement which was submitted through Advocate Muhammad Akram Sheikh.

After his exile from Pakistan on Dec 10, 2000, the late Mian Sharif advised the Al-Thani family that his investment, together with the cumulative return would be for the benefit of his eldest grandson — Hussain Nawaz.

In 2006, the account between the Al-Thani family and Hussain Nawaz was settled through which the properties were transferred by delivery of the bearer shares of the entities to nominee of Hussain Nawaz.

The document again emphasised that Maryam Nawaz was a trustee for the benefit of Hussain Nawaz in pursuance of the 2006 trust deed, executed between the two. Thus from 2006 onward, the London properties were owned by Hussain Nawaz.

Tracing the earlier history, the statement explained that in 1973, after severe victimisation and unfair treatment of the then government, the late Mian Sharif moved to the UAE to set up Gulf Steel Mills there in 1974. Mian Sharif carried on this business through his nephew Muhammad Tariq Shafi while Muhammad Hussain was a partner in the mill.

The then government of Dubai, respecting the knowledge, know-how and experience of Mian Sharif, not only granted leased land for the factory but also granted all utility connections required for the factory. The steel factory was thus established by obtaining loans from domestic bank in Dubai, Mr Sharif’s children had stated.

When Muhammad Hussain passed away, his legal heirs through a cessation letter transferred their share, including the rights and liabilities, in favour of Tariq Shafi, the only remaining shareholder who was holding the shares on behalf of Mian Sharif.

In 1978, Mian Sharif decided to sell off 75 per cent shares of the mill to Abdallah Kayed Ahli to settle its outstanding liabilities with a bank in Dubai, the children claimed.

Consequently, in 1978, Tariq Shafi sold 75pc shares of the mill through a tri-partite agreement, emphasising that the money obtained from the sale of 75pc shares of the Gulf Steel Mills was utilised exclusively to settle its outstanding liabilities.

Simultaneously with the execution of the tri-partite agreement, it was agreed that the business of the factory would be run under the name of “Ahli Steel Mills Company". Of AED 28,500,000 capital of the Ahli company, Abdallah Kayed Ahli subscribed to 75pc shares while the remaining 25pc shares were treated as having been contributed by Tariq Shafi in accordance with the tri-partite agreement.

In this manner Abdallah Kayed Ahli came to own 75pc of the business which was previously exclusively owned by Mian Sharif. A fresh partnership agreement was executed between Abdallah Kayed Ahli and Tariq Shafi.

In 1980, Mian Sharif decided to disengage himself from his steel business in Dubai whereby the 25pc shares in the Ahli company were sold to Mohd Abdallah Kayed Ahli against a total sale consideration of AED 12 million.

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